1990: Programming languages

In 1990, I drew thirteen cartoons for the computing industry press. They were never published, so here they are from the Beholder archive. They have no particular artistic merit, but they’re mildly interesting from a nostalgically geeky point of view.

10. Assembly code

I’m old-school enough that I really have written assembly code professionally: I wrote 6502 assembler to wibble the voltages for drawing lines on a Tektronix vector monitor (or else something very like it). Ooh! As students, we also did 68000 assembler on Amigas in the Assembler Programming unit in the 2nd year of my Computer Science degree. I have a soft spot for Assembler because you really do feel like you are talking to the machine, and it’s all very honest, but of course I’m also glad I don’t need to do such nonsense any more. Note the inevitable sexism in the “Bob” and “Jim” gag — honestly, back then that joke would have jarred if told with a “Sue” and now nobody normal even knows any assembly programmers for it to be worth telling. But for the record, this other vintage illustration (from around the same time) is also relevant to that theme. “NOP”, which appears on the screen in this cartoon, is the mnemonic for no operation or “do nothing”. I also think it’s likely that many (young? intellectual?) people reading this will never have had the deeply satisfying experience of having cleaned their hands with Swarfega.

I named these verbose cartoons “the Need To Know Guide to Programming Languages”. Note that this was nothing to do with Danny O’Brien & Dave Green’s Need to Know (NTK) newsletter, which did not come along for another seven years (and to which I enthusiastically subscribed).

You’re free to use the illustration for anything provided you attribute Beholder as the source (a CC BY 4.0 license).

See more vintage Beholder nostalgia.